ACPN, Mercer University Trained  200 Community Pharmacists as Certified Vaccinators

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In fulfillment of its pledge to members, the leadership of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), under the administration of the Immediate Past National Chairman, Dr Samuel Adekola, in collaboration with a team of accomplished practitioners from the Mercer University, United States, has trained and delivered 200 pharmacists as certified trainers on pharmacy-based vaccination delivery on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Basic Life Support.

The vaccination training, which was the brainchild of the Transgenerational Pharmacies Development Foundation (TGPDF), was a six months online training programme for pharmacists on CPR and BLS, after which they were presented certificates on completion. It was conducted at the just concluded 40th Annual National Scientific Conference of ACPN, in Abeokuta, in partnership with seasoned professionals from both regulatory bodies and academia in Nigeria.

Fielding questions from journalists at the programme, which was the maiden edition, the President of the Foundation, Prof. Lere Baale, said the TGPDF was created and populated with a group of professional thinkers to help accelerate the transformation of community pharmacy practice to meet the growing needs of stakeholders in the 21st century.

One of the practical sessions

According to him, the programme is being driven by the Foundation as it believes it’s going to get good use of them, saying we don’t need to travel overseas to get trained any longer. “This training will help reduce hesitancy and help encourage more people to embrace vaccination. As I mentioned, part of the reason for this training was for advocacy and for them to become certified immunisers”.

He continued: “As part of our efforts, we have a training and capacity building committee which has in its fold arrays of professionals and part of its responsibilities is planning and implementing a training programme for community pharmacists with regards to the delivery of primary healthcare services in the community, ensuring that pharmacists are not only trained but licensed to provide primary healthcare services, thus confirming legal authority to the pharmacists to provide these services, as well as working on  long term with training institutions like varsities to ensure training on PHC services, which is part of the curriculum.

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Also speaking, Adekola, disclosed that the outcome of the passionate pursuit of his administration’s goals and objectives led to the formation of TGPDF with a focus on anchoring major projects of transforming community pharmacy practice to be able to meet the of 21st century, adding that 21st century community pharmacists are now expected to practice as primary healthcare providers with the patient as the central focus of all their activities and practice.

Pharm. Kunle Tometi taking one of the classes

According to him, the programme was important and timely, saying it requires a paradigm shift in the way pharmacists do things so as to meet the growing needs and demands of patients, especially during the present COVID-19 pandemic and thereafter.

One of the facilitators and trainers, Pharm. Kunle Tometi,  a clinical pharmacist and  CEO, Total Pharmacy, Dallas, Texas, USA, defined Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)  as an emergency procedure that combines chest compressions often with artificial ventilation in an effort to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person who is in cardiac arrest, saying the training was basically to get the participants certified to give the vaccination.

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He said  the 7 training modules  include:  Background information of vaccine; vaccine consideration, patient screening education and consent; storage handling, delivery and waste management of vaccine; review of vaccination equipment and supplies; vaccine administration, anaphylaxis and post vaccination info; recording and monitoring vaccination and competency skill check via exit examination, saying the programme was an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge and skills associated with vaccine information, storage, handling  and administration.

“What we have done here today is to come and certify pharmacists on vaccination as well as immunsation techniques. What we know is that pharmacists are people with a high level of knowledge and training, as they are everywhere in the country, so we thought if we could train pharmacists to become vaccinators, it will help the country, so we have come to train them, share experiences and help them understand what is the importance of pharmacy in primary healthcare”, he said.

Tometi also called for the inclusion of community pharmacies as sites of adult vaccination, saying barriers to improving adult vaccination rates range from a lack of public awareness regarding the need for vaccines and the threat of vaccine-preventable diseases to challenges regarding financial or reimbursement systems for providers, adding that pharmacists are ideally positioned to overcome some of these obstacles.

“Pharmacists are very valuable, as more pharmacies than ever are offering vaccination services, increasing the numbers of providers and access points for patients. More than 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy and as of 2011 to 2012 influenza season, more than 20 percent of adults reported receiving a flu vaccine from a drug store or supermarket pharmacy.

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He continued, “As we have certified these vaccinators today, what we need next is advocacy as pharmacists are still not recognised in Nigeria to vaccinate, so we are going to call on the PSN through the ACPN to continue to work with the government along with the PCN and Primary Healthcare Board to create legislation in the senate so that pharmacists can have the right to vaccinate people. We have about twenty-five thousand pharmacists in Nigeria now, if we can get this right, it will further help the healthcare sector and it will benefit Nigeria for it,” he advised.

Speaking earlier, Dr UNO Uwaga, former president, PSN, and chairman, Board of Trustees, ACPN, called for official legislation to ensure pharmacists are recognised as vaccinators, saying the government should make good use of the certified professionals for preventive healthcare.

“There is no gainsaying about it, with the vaccination training that we have witnessed today, there is no going back, it means in terms of preventive healthcare pharmacists will begin to play an important role in terms of vaccination, although we are already playing this role, we shall begin to do more. In other countries, we have seen where the government uses the community pharmacies as preventive healthcare vaccination centres and that is reaching out to the masses at the community, it means with the spread of the community pharmacies, the people can be reached.”

One of the practical sessions

Pharm. Kunle Tometi taking one of the classes

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